I'm a mom and teacher and honestly have not settled on what I will be doing with my own children (each family will have to make the decision that is right for their own circumstances). However, these are a few things that might ease the transition if they do go back:
1. Mask training: My kids have never had the need to really wear masks. There are three weeks before teachers go back and four before students return so I will be working my kids up week by week to wear their masks for sustained periods. One hour this week, two hours next week and so forth. I will also help them practice proper mask removal hygiene/safe storage, before snacks and lunch at home.
2. Water bottles: I decided to purchase water bottles that have a built-in protected spout cover that is opened with a button. Water fountains won't be used but I prefer my kids avoid water fill stations if possible (there are only two in my own school) so I got a good size stainless steel water bottle that can keep drinks cool for an extended time. I chose one with a button to reduce the need to touch the spout. I will introduce these bottles at home and remind them to sanitize before opening it up.
3. Lanyards: I've seen a lot of posts circulating about having kids hang their masks on lanyards. I bought two to try out with my children at home and it's a better than placing a mask down on a surface, and they will be less likely to lose them. A note though - I wear a lanyard at school and at times it has been caught on a doorknob or closed in a door so I have a lanyard with a release button. We will practice and see if lanyards are the best approach for my kids as I worry about them being choking hazards on playground equipment. We played around with solutions and my eldest daughter made a mask holder with rainbow loom, it hangs like a pair of glasses would.
4. Lunch boxes: For smaller ones, it's a good idea to get them practicing eating from their school containers. They can practice opening all their own lunch boxes and containers so they can do it independently. Less need for a helper having to touch everyone's lunch things. Something I came across on a blog is to perhaps add a face wipe in their lunch bag so they can freshen up from being in a mask all morning.
5. Handwashing/sanitizing and bathroom protocol: We will also go over hand washing, bathroom protocol, hygiene, etc.
6. School supplies: I am going to make sure the kids are stocked with everything they need and label everything (even sweaters and hoodies, etc). I’m going to give them each a closed snap container for their supplies which can stay in their desk at school (if this is allowed). We will go over keeping our hands to ourselves and avoid sharing (which will be counterintuitive to what has been drilled in over the years so I fear they might be confused by this and we will explain the necessary COVID precautions and reasons behind them).
7. Outerwear, shoes, and pants: If your kids are younger, consider velcro for shoes (gotta love velcro!), and practicing things like the "jacket flip", zipping up jackets, or doing up buttons on coats. If your little one is quite small, consider pants that are easy to manage taking on and off for restroom breaks.
8. Create a “decontamination” area in your car and school: I’m going to put a bin in the trunk and create a space where all bags, jackets, and lunch items go near the front door – a mat or tray strictly for outdoor shoes. This next step may not be necessary but depending on your level of comfort you could even add a laundry hamper for all outdoor clothes and bathe as a first activity after coming home. My kids would love running naked to the bathroom lol!
9. Add some fun: I am going to think of little ways to add some fun – love notes, affirmations, photos inside lunch boxes, special cutlery, yummy treat, removable stickers for lunch boxes, etc. I might call it FUNny Fridays. Gotta remember they are kids and school is going to look different and I want to keep the stress at bay and add some joy. I’m going to try to keep my cool as best I can and do all the above in a relaxed way. plus do it with them.
I’m already excited about my new water bottle- I chose purple.
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